The team responsible for two of Austin’s best restaurants is taking on a new challenge and broadening its culinary reach.
The folks from Uchi and Uchiko plan to open St. Philip, a pizza parlor and bake-house, in South Austin in 2014. The restaurant at 4715 S. Lamar Blvd. in Sunset Valley will serve pizzas, sandwiches, meatballs, seasonal sharable plates, fresh-baked breads and an assortment of pastries and desserts. St. Philip will be located in the building previously occupied by Cannoli Joe’s.
"It’s going to be a chance for us to have something that’s outside of the limitations that we’ve had before, and take a lot of our talent and some of our past experiences and passion to do something outside of that normal wheelhouse that we do now," Uchi’s director of culinary operations and executive pastry chef Philip Speer said. "It’s pretty exciting to do something different."
Despite the playful coincidence, the restaurant is not named after Speer, who is helming the project. The moniker is a nod to St. Philip, the patron saint of pastry chefs and bakers.
"I’d like to think if my name was Jim, we’d still go in the same direction," Speer said. "Of course it’s a funny little play on that, but we really like the connotation of a humble offering and someone with passionate roots into baking and pastries."
Speer said that people shouldn’t expect "Uchi pizza" with wild or exotic ingredients, just "great crust with a few really great toppings and sauce."
The bakery will serve savory and sweet baked goods, so guests can expect anything from a kimchi bialy to a play on a snowball or a moon pie.
"It’s not going to be your typical, classic pastry shop by any means, but it’s going to be accessible. It’s going to be fun; it’s not going to be weird," Speer said. "We want to take cool, familiar things and make them just as delicious, but with a little more surprise behind it."
The expansion of the Uchi team’s operation will allow the group to keep much of the talent it’s cultivated in-house while giving them a chance to grow and evolve. It will also offer a showcase for Uchi’s trademark service in a more casual environment.
"I think one thing that makes us really successful is our culture and our hospitality, and we’re excited about being able to do that in a different venue that will hit more of a different demographic," Speer said.